1,295kg. That’s the weight of this four-berth from Lunar. Not the unladen weight. No, it’s the maximum weight. So, even fully loaded you’re looking at mainstream towcars rather than beasts of burden. Volkswagen Group’s Passat estate, Seat Leon X-Perience and Skoda Octavia Scout immediately leap out as perfect tugs here. It’s the former – the 2.0 TDI BMT 150PS SE Business DSG, to be precise – that’s just scooped the overall winner prize in the annual Towcar Awards.
And, there’s every opportunity of keeping within the 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass limit for car and caravan outfits that means anyone with a full driving licence can pilot them (see the beginner’s guide to towing for further details.)
And even then, this Lunar Venus has a loading margin for all of your caravanning paraphernalia of 195kg – that’s a crucial bit more than other tourers manage, although do bear in mind any extras you order will eat into this.
Count this in as a family ‘van for up to four, too. That’s thanks to it being a scaled down (in terms of specification) variant of the popular fixed twin single beds/end washroom floorplan.
The 550/4 was one of five new Venus models introduced for this season as parent company Lunar uprated the whole range, freshening up the interiors with new furniture finish and upholsteries, in particular.
There is a definite market for a well-made but basic caravan, and Venus fills this niche admirably, doing away with most of the frills. Nevertheless, the example shown here comes with the highly popular Plus Pack, detailed below. It certainly helps lift an otherwise deliberately scaled-down specification.
Those two single beds are set low for ease of access. Both are 1.87m x 0.68m (6ft 2in long, 2ft 3in narrow), while the lounge can convert into a double (or, indeed, two short singles).
The end washroom features a shower with bi-folding door and useful hanging rail (idea for wet clothing etc), but other storage is limited to a ribbed ledge adjacent to the mixer tap. The free-standing washbasin has a swan neck tap and there’s a large, opaque opening window behind this. Meanwhile, a swivel-bowl toilet occupies the offside.
So, where are the compromises? Could you live with just three gas rings and a combined oven and grill in the kitchen? Manual gas operation for the fridge? A standard size rooflight over the beds? A single front window? Just the two reading lamps in the lounge? A Truma Combi heating and hot water system that’s “only” rated at 2kW?
The above are all rhetorical. They are certainly among the pointers as to how Venus pricing is kept so competitive. Perhaps a bigger concern should be the slight flimsiness of the furniture – aspects like this don’t necessarily bode well, especially in a unit that is aiming for a family audience.
The other side of the coin, however, is all of the above factors contribute towards those low weights. Some of that is down to simply having a smaller footprint, especially width-wise, than its nearest rivals. In turn, that can mean a more reassuring unit to tow.
It’s not only the light weight and keen price, but this kind of tourer is ideal for those starting out in caravanning who want a brand new unit and don’t necessarily want to overspend their budget. Indeed, it’s often seen as good advice to stick to basics, at least to start with.
Verdict: Light, but entertaining
Plus: Low weight, keen price (but budget for the Plus Pack)
Minus: Slightly flimsy nature
In-a-nutshell: Family-friendly fare for four
There’s more information on the Venus range on the Lunar website. To find out more about our low-cost premiums visit the caravan insurance discounts page.
Alternatives: Bailey Pursuit 550/4, Xplore 574
Venus 550/4 factfile
|Dimensions||7.27m L, 2.21m W, 2.60m H|
|Safety & security||Safety and security CRiS identification, smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector, snake-cut key to all locks|
|Key options||Plus Pack – alloy wheels, Al-Ko AKS stabiliser, spare wheel and carrier, Al-Ko Secure receiver, microwave oven, stereo radio/CD/MP3 (£449), Glamourshield paint protection (£339)|